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If you’ve been following healthy eating and weight loss tips, I know you’re familiar with the idea of meal prepping. It’s one of the most common tips people recommend when you’re starting out.
Meal prepping helps you eat healthier during the week and saves you time on busy weeknights.
However, meal prepping can seem really intimidating especially for beginners. You may be asking yourself how do I start meal prepping?
I was so hesitant to try it for the longest time.
I’ve read some posts that recommend 2-hour sessions twice per week. With kids and families to take care of, who honestly has that much time every week?
I know I don’t!
Luckily, meal prepping doesn’t need to be that time-consuming.
I’ve put together a list of realistic meal prepping ideas that will help you eat healthier, cook quicker during the week, and ultimately save even more time.
Learn how to meal prep for beginners so you’ll be ready to eat healthy all week long.
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal Prepping is the concept of preparing all or some of your meals ahead of time.
Some people like to cook full meals such as soups or chilis ahead and then simply reheat them when you’re ready for it later in the week.
Alternatively, meal prepping can simply include prepping ingredients you’ll use in multiple recipes throughout the week.
Meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to eat the same foods over and over throughout the week. However, it does mean you’ll have a plan of what you’ll eat and you’ll be prepared to throw food together each night.
Why Meal Prep?
Meal prepping helps you:
- Eat Healthier- You’ll eat the healthy meals you planned ahead of time instead of grabbing something quick and easy later in the week. Also, you can snack on chopped veggies and fruit when your itching for a quick snack.
- Save Time- When you meal prep, you’ll save loads of time cooking your meals. You’ll mostly be reheating and stirring things together rather than chopping and cooking full meals. This is so perfect for hectic school nights
- Save Money- You’ll be less likely to get takeout or eat out if you have meals prepped and ready to eat at home. Eating out is expensive and adds up over time. Get ready for some extra cash in your bank account each month!
- Stress Less- Say goodbye to stressing over what to cook each night. You’ll have a sound plan ahead of time. All you need to do is open your meal planner and see what you’ve chosen ahead of time.
Meal Prepping Must-Haves
To get started meal prepping, there are a few things you need in place.
Quality Set of Containers
In order to get started meal prepping, you’ll need a variety of containers ready to use.
They’re both high quality and come in multiple sizes. Plus, I love the simple fact that they’re not made from cheap plastic.
Pyrex bowls are safe to reheat food in and dishwasher safe. Unlike cheap plastic containers, they don’t breakdown over time and leach chemicals.
They’ve become a lot more affordable and come in loads of different sizes. Also, they’ll last forever. Once you invest in a set, you won’t have to constantly replace it like you do with cheap plastic.
Also, if you have babies or toddlers, your pressure cooker is the perfect device for their food too!
Pop your food in the pressure cooker, steam for 2-3 minutes, and it’ll be perfectly soft and ready to go.
The other essential kitchen gadget for efficient meal prepping is a food processor. You’ll save loads of time slicing, dicing, mincing, and shredding.
Plus, with a food processor, you’ll be able to make so many new sauces and dressings including pesto and other delicious recipes.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra, this Ninja Blender is the ultimate kitchen gadget. It functions as a regular blender, food processor, coffee grinder, and single-serve blender for smoothies.
Otherwise, this Kitchenaid Food Processor does the job well at a much lower price point.
Another important aspect of meal prepping is having a solid meal plan. A meal plan is a must to save time during the busy week.
Before you go grocery shopping and start meal prepping, it’s important to know what you’re going to make.
Read how to meal plan each week for your family in less than 30 minutes.
Review your meal plan before you start prepping so you’ll know exactly what you need. This helps guide you with how much to prepare ahead of time and which ingredients you’ll need all week.
How To Meal Prep for Beginners
1. Cut Before You Put Away
The first thing I always do is wash and cut produce before I even put it in the fridge. This way when your hunting for a snack later on, veggies are already accessible.
What I do is quickly cut them up and let them soak in the sink while I put the rest of my groceries away. When they’re clean and dry I put the veggies into a big container or bowl and they’re ready to go.
Also, your vegetables will be ready to add to meals all week long.
2. Cook Grains and Rice Ahead of Time
Grains and rice will keep for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Use your pressure cooker to cook a big batch when you have a little extra time so they’ll be ready for the week.
Store it in an air-tight container for later in the week.
When you’re ready to heat them up, add a little extra water and heat it on the stove for a few minutes.
3. Prepare Some Meat Ahead of Time
Meat is trickier to cook ahead of time, so it’s important to check your meal plan before you cook it. According to Foodsafety.gov, cooked chicken stays fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
If you know you’ll eat the chicken within three days, go ahead and pre-cook it when you have a little extra time. Otherwise, I recommend waiting to cook until later on so it doesn’t go bad.
If you choose to freeze your meat, make sure to take it out at least a day ahead of time so it’ll be thawed out when you need to cook it.
You don’t want frozen meat to slow you down on a busy night.
4. Make Marinades or Sauces Ahead of Time
Try to make marinades or sauces ahead of time. This can be a little more time-consuming, so when you have some extra time, make your sauces and marinades.
Later in the week when you’re ready to cook, you’ll just simply pour it on top instead of prepping at that time.
5. Pre-Measure and Group Together Ingredients
After you pre-cook your grains, meat, and veggies, you can take it one step further and portion out the food you’ll use each night. This way when you’re ready to cook meals throughout the week you don’t need to grab 5 separate containers.
You’ll simply dump and reheat for a complete meal!
6. Start Small
If you’re brand new to meal prepping, start small. Start with just one or two meals each week and see how it goes.
After you get the hang of it, try to prep more the following week.
Although meal prepping isn’t a necessity to eat healthily, it does save a lot of time.
It might feel overwhelming at first, but you can do it! Try to look at your schedule and find an extra 30 minutes or an hour each week to prep some foods.
You’ll be amazed by how much healthier you eat throughout the week. When you’re feeling tired or strapped for time, you won’t have to stress about what to cook.
You’ll have a plan and food ready to go!
Now that you know how to meal prep, plan out some of your favorite recipes and get started. Follow your meal plan and you’ll be eating healthy all week.
Some of my favorite recipes for meal prepping are:
- Coconut Curry– This is perfect to reheat later in the week or even freeze for later.
- Vegetarian Sweet Potato Tacos– After you prep this meal, it’ll be ready in just 10 minutes!
- Quinoa Salad– This is a delicious lunch or side dish.
Meal prepping has been such a game-changer for my family’s health and eating habits. We’ve gained so much control over what we eat and save so much time.
I can’t wait to hear how meal prepping works for you and your family!
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